The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

Forest Lawn markets funeral services at malls

28846 full
28846 full

A Glendale cemetery is rolling out kiosks at Southern California malls to reach new customers. 

"It’s been very successful for us for providing an easy way for families to approach us that are interested," said Ben Sussman, a spokesman for Glendale cemetery Forest Lawn.

Forest Lawn is the final resting place for celebrities like Walt Disney and actress Elizabeth Taylor. Currently, there's a kiosk open at Glendale Galleria near Macy's and there are plans to have another one in Burbank, Sussman said. Families can find out more information about Forest Lawn, from cremations to funeral services at the kiosks, but no sales are made there, Sussman said.

He said the cemetery started the kiosks a couple of years ago.

Mark Musgrove, a past president of National Funeral Directors Association, said it's another way for the cemetery to reach out to consumers in a place they aren't intimidated. He told KPCC that some customers may look at funeral homes as "uncomfortable places because we care for the dead there." 

Talking about funerals at a mall "may be a place where people can come up and they are in an environment that is non-threatening," said Musgrove, who is also co-owner of Musgrove Mortuaries and Cemeteries in Eugene, Oregon.

"They can walk up to the (mall) kiosk and be curious about what's going on and ask questions and get real answers about what we do and how we do things," he said.

Other funeral homes have tried to set up offices that sell caskets or low-cost cremation services, Musgrove said. Some of those efforts haven't been successful because customers still want to see the actual cemetery plot or funeral home in person, not just from a brochure. He said the kiosks may help in getting a conversation started about funerals but the mall is "probably not the best place to close arrangements."

The median cost of an adult funeral was $7,045 in 2012, up 7 percent from $6,560 in 2009, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Enjoy reading The Breakdown? You might like KPCC’s other blogs.

What's popular now on KPCC